DIY re­pairs

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Air-Conditioning Repairs -

Due to the detri­men­tal ef­fects re­frig­er­ant has on the en­vi­ron­ment, it is il­le­gal to han­dle it with­out the nec­es­sary cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. You also risk se­ri­ous in­jury if you come into con­tact with the es­cap­ing gas. You should leave any­thing to do with the re­frig­er­ant to a qual­i­fied pro­fes­sional, who will be able to evac­u­ate the sys­tem and dis­pose of the gas in an en­vi­ron­men­tally-safe man­ner.

If your air­con is not work­ing, be­cause the con­denser or pipework, has been punc­tured and all gas has es­caped, you may con­sider chang­ing these com­po­nents your­self, prior to vis­it­ing a spe­cial­ist for re­gassing. As it is il­le­gal for an air­con­di­tion­ing en­gi­neer to recharge a sys­tem that is known to be leak­ing, it will be vac­uum- or pres­sure-tested first us­ing in­ert ni­tro­gen gas. Only if the sys­tem does not lose pres­sure will it be recharged with the cor­rect type and quan­tity of gas and oil. How­ever, small leaks in an air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem can be tricky to lo­cate and a low-pres­sure switch will de­ac­ti­vate the com­pres­sor clutch, or in­ter­nal so­le­noid, even though the sys­tem con­tains resid­ual pres­sure.

Aside from the safety, en­vi­ron­men­tal and le­gal im­pli­ca­tions, open­ing-up the air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem, or al­low­ing it to de­pres­surise com­pletely, is not ad­vis­able, be­cause ex­ter­nal con­tam­i­na­tions can en­ter the sys­tem, re­sult­ing in re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues. Fur­ther­more, the re­ceiver/dryer could be­come over­sat­u­rated with mois­ture from the air, ren­der­ing it use­less.

While re­plac­ing pipes and con­densers at home is pos­si­ble, pro­vided you have the sys­tem evac­u­ated of any resid­ual gas by a pro­fes­sional first, a novice DIYER is re­stricted to pe­ri­odic main­te­nance du­ties, most of which are on the ‘dry’ side of the sys­tem. More ex­pe­ri­enced home me­chan­ics will need slightly more ad­vanced di­ag­nos­tic equip­ment to ob­tain live data read­ings that can pin­point spe­cific prob­lems – this is use­ful on cars with com­plex cli­mate con­trol sys­tems.

While many of the air­con com­po­nents are ac­ces­si­ble, you need to re­move the heater box to reach the evap­o­ra­tor, which could mean ex­ten­sive dis­man­tling of the in­te­rior – it is not as dif­fi­cult as it looks.

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